Literature Study GuidesWatership DownPart 2 Chapters 28 29 Summary

Watership Down | Study Guide

Richard Adams

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Watership Down | Part 2, Chapters 28–29 : On Watership Down | Summary

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Summary

Part 2, Chapter 28: At the Foot of the Hill

The epigraph is from Walter de la Mare's poem, "The Pilgrim," describing how it feels to come back home. Holly takes Clover out to silflay, but she is uncomfortable being away from the warren in a wide-open space. She asks to eat closer to the warren entrance. She is also not used to how fast the wild rabbits do everything. Holly notices Bigwig staring at something, and Bigwig says he sees Blackberry coming. Blackberry tells them that Fiver is with Hazel, who has been shot but is alive. Bigwig and Holly are flabbergasted at this news, wanting to know how Fiver knew Hazel was there and alive. Blackberry says that Fiver told him everything would be fine, and he believes him no matter what he says now.

Hazel has a very difficult time getting to safety, but Fiver manages to help get him to the overgrown ditch at the foot of the hill. Hazel can't see or smell well and his leg is throbbing. Bigwig goes to the ditch to see Hazel and comes across Kehaar, who asks about Hazel. Kehaar wants to know, "You get black stones out?" Bigwig, who doesn't know about guns, doesn't understand. Kehaar tells him that when men shoot guns, small black stones (bullets) come out and make a wound. Kehaar finds the bullets by smell and plucks them out, telling Hazel that he should stay where he is for a couple of days to heal. Hazel stays there for three days. Holly comes down to see Hazel and tell him about Efrafa. Hazel thinks he has made nothing but trouble, but Holly says that at least they have two does. Hazel wonders if they will be able to produce kittens.

Hazel realizes that since there are only two does, the bucks will fight over them and the warren will not do well. He tells Holly they have to go back to get does from Efrafa. Holly is horrified, exclaiming "You might as well say you were going to get them out of Inlé, Hazel-rah," meaning that he might as well be heading into the afterlife to bring back the dead. Hazel says the raid must allow them to get the does, get clear of the pursuit that will happen when they leave, and make sure the Efrafans can't find them. He says "it will have to be done by means of a trick," and tasks Blackberry, the innovator, with creating the trick. Fiver says, "I believe we can do it," which means there isn't so much danger involved that they can't succeed.

Part 2, Chapter 29: Return and Departure

The epigraph for this chapter comes from Shakespeare's play, Henry V, describing how one has to be ready to go to battle. Hazel comes back to the warren and is greeted with much affection and play. He speaks with every rabbit, asking about how they feel about having only two does as well as asking those who went to Efrafa what they think about the place. Holly interrupts Hazel's speech about having a plan with his fears about going back to Efrafa. Holly thinks it's a terrible idea. Hazel says they have two choices, to make do with what they have or to set things "right once and for all." All the rabbits want to know what Fiver thinks, since Fiver now has a reputation for reliably knowing when danger is near. Fiver sees no reason not to go.

Fiver plans to go to Efrafa, and Hazel tells the group that he is going, too. The farm rabbits will stay and the rabbits who have been to Efrafa don't have to go again. Silver decides he will go anyway as a guide and to get revenge. Hazel notes that Kehaar will also come. Blackberry comes in and tells Hazel that Kehaar has improved their plan, so Hazel goes out to speak with Kehaar. Kehaar says that he needs to get to "Peeg Vater," big water, meaning the ocean, so the operation has to be quick. They plan to set off the next morning, and Holly will be Chief Rabbit while Hazel is gone.

Analysis

The farm rabbits are uncomfortable out in the open, which makes them less likely to be able to have kittens because they are under stress. The author explains that the rabbits discuss the does as breeding stock rather than as love interests. Rabbits do form attachments, but not as strongly as humans do, and not in a romantic fashion. This section shows that the author is aware of how the conversation must sound to readers and wants to make sure that the reader knows that he doesn't think that way about men and women.

Hazel and Fiver have enhanced their reputations as being somewhat magical since Hazel survives a gunshot wound and Fiver knows how and where to find him to save his life. Kehaar also uses his knowledge of men and their weapons to help Hazel by taking out the bullets so Hazel's leg will heal. All three characters have important contributions to make to the group, and they take on the quality of folk heroes themselves because they are the talk of the warren. The rabbits all want to know what Fiver thinks of the plan to go to Efrafa, showing that the future of the warren hinges upon Fiver's insights and approval.

The author's knowledge of rabbit behavior also comes in when Hazel is concerned about the larger rabbits tearing each other apart over the does. For the number of bucks in the warren, two does is not enough to keep the peace. The author has studied how rabbits determine who gets to mate, so this portrayal of how a warren would fare with so few does is accurate.

Hazel doesn't want a warren with bucks who are constantly at war with each other. His leadership and intention to do anything he can to help the group survive come into play in this section. It seems improbable that after being shot, Hazel could possibly want to go to Efrafa himself, but his plan allows him to be the leader without actually going into the Efrafan warren. Hazel's trick, enhanced by Blackberry and improved by Kehaar, shows that he is a leader in the style of El-ahrairah, using his ingenuity to keep himself and others alive and make sure that his warren thrives.

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